KINSALE golfer John Murphy will treat his PGA Tour debut at this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am like any other tournament.
The 23-year-old West Cork man will tee off against Major champions like Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose, as well as world number four and last year’s FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay.
Naturally, Murphy is excited about this week’s tournament, which starts this Thursday, but he is keen to keep his feet on the ground.
He already knows what it’s like to be in contention in a high-profile tournament after his top-ten finish in last October’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and he will use that experience in California this week.
‘It didn't really hit me until I was just about to tee off in Pebble last week and they started putting up the 18th tee signs around the tee box, and putting up all the fencing. That’s when it hit me that I am going to play in the PGA Tour, and that’s pretty cool,’ explained Murphy, who flew out to the States last week as he cranked up his preparations.
‘You try to put it to the back of your mind – that’s obviously hard to do – but I think I did a pretty good job of it at the Alfred Dunhill. Allowing yourself to think like that at the start of the week is fine, but towards the end of the week I don’t want to treat it any differently to any other tournament. I want to prepare the same.
‘My coach got over here on Sunday, so hopefully this week we will get a few good days of work done and be ready to go on Thursday.’
Murphy turned pro last summer and impressed as he secured his Challenge Tour card for 2022. From his short time on the pro circuit he has seen what’s needed to cut it at the highest level, and he’s working hard to close the gap to the world’s best.
‘Growing up you hear about how good the guys on tour are and you are watching TV every week and you are seeing good shot after good shot, because they are showing the highlights, and I think you are getting a bit of a false impression as to what professional golf is like,’ said Murphy, speaking this week at the launch of Golf Ireland’s new five-year Strategic Plan that will help guide the game from 2022 to 2026.
‘People think that professional golfers don’t hit bad shots and that they are flawless. I was lucky enough to play with some of the best players last year and I realised it’s really not a matter of hitting good shot after good shot, it’s more a matter of who can hit less bad shots out there on tour. It gave me a lot of comfort. Certainly, when I played with them I didn't feel I was that far behind at all. The gaps are very minute at this level and trying to close those gaps is what it’s all about now.’